African-American officer among victims in Baton Rouge attack
An ex-US marine and Iraq war veteran shot dead three Baton Rouge police on Sunday -including an African-American officer – and wounded three others.
President Barack Obama condemned the “cowardly” act and demanded an end to attacks on law enforcement.
The suspect, dressed in black and armed with a rifle, was shot dead on Sunday morning in a gunfight with police who converged on the scene of a confrontation that mayor Kip Holden said began as an ambush.
The shooting took place in a city scarred by racial tensions and protests against police brutality since the July 5 death of Alton Sterling, a black man shot at point-blank range by white police.
Louisiana state police superintendent Colonel Mike Edmonson said the gunman, identified by US media as Gavin Long, attacked police on his 29th birthday.
“Until we come together as a nation, as a people, to heal as a people, if we don’t do that and this madness continues, we will surely perish as a people,” a shaken Edmonson said.
The Baton Rouge shooting took place along a highway near the police headquarters around 8.40am, after officers responded to a call about a man carrying a rifle.
The gunman was dressed all in black and, some reports said, wore a mask.
A witness said the gunman carried what appeared to be an AR-15 assault-style rifle.
The shooter, based in Kansas City — more than 1 100km north of Baton Rouge — was a former Marine who served a 2008-9 tour of duty in Iraq.
Last year, Long legally changed his name to Cosmo Ausar Setepenra, claiming to be a member of the Washitaw Nation, a group of African-Americans claiming to be a native American nation in the US.
But one of the officers killed by Long — Montrell Jackson, 32 — was black.
The other two were identified as Matthew Gerald and Brad Garafola.
Jackson wrote recently on Facebook: “I swear to God I love this city, but I wonder if this city loves me. In uniform I get nasty, hateful looks, and out of uniform some consider me a threat.
“Please don’t let hate infect your heart. This city MUST and WILL get better.”
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards described the shooting as “an absolutely unspeakable, heinous attack on law enforcement here in Baton Rouge”.